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Mascot is senior’s gift to Union College

Posted on Jun 14, 1998

Schenectady, N.Y. (June 14, 1998) – The senior class gift – a mascot in the form of a “Dutchperson” – made its debut on campus last week.

President Roger Hull welcomed the new mascot costume, which was worn by a member of the junior class.

The mascot – known as “Dutch” — has an oversized head and yellow hair, a garnet shirt (the College color) emblazoned with a “U,” blue breeches, and Dutch clogs. It was presented with a shirt bearing the number “98.”

It's “sort of androgynous,” says Ruthie Strosberg '98, coordinator of the senior gift. “The gender is in the eye of the beholder.”

“We hope this becomes a tradition,” she said. “This could be the (senior) gift that is really special.”

“Dutch” is expected to appear at athletic events and a number of other college functions.

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A sampling of interesting people in Commencement 1998

Posted on Jun 14, 1998

'Pop' and Circumstance is a family affair for Union grad and granddad.

Raymond Dematteo, 79, has always looked forward to experiencing the pride of seeing his beloved granddaughter, Maria, accept her diploma from Union College. But, Raymond would never have dreamed of the chance to be part of the ceremony. Yet, thanks largely to Maria's efforts, he will. After learning of a program at Union that awards degrees to alumni who have completed at least three years of study at the College, have received an advanced degree and have attained distinction in their field, Maria immediately thought of her grandfather, who attended Union in 1941. She remembered him telling her how, in 1942, his college plans were interrupted with the nation's entry into World War II. That year, Raymond left his native Schenectady to serve in the U.S. Air Force in the Pacific Theater. After the war, he returned to Union but, due to funding restrictions imposed by the G.I. Bill, he could not complete his degree requirements. The Bill did, however, provide funding for Raymond to continue his studies at Albany Law School, where he received his law degree. On Sunday, June 14, Raymond and Maria will receive their diplomas together at Union's Commencement ceremony. Says Raymond of his pride and joy, “being part of this special time in her life is truly wonderful.”

He walked out of the LSAT for entertainment.

In the middle of his Law School Aptitude Test, Doug Schneider decided that he wanted more than a career in law. So he put down his pencil and left. “I walked out right in the middle,” said the history major who graduates from Union College this Sunday. “I was doing great too. I told them I had to pee.” Schneider, who said he had been preparing to be a lawyer “my whole life,” decided that he wanted to explore another love – the entertainment industry. So, the West Windsor, N.J., native who minored in theater, plans to live in Israel, where he says he will study their thriving entertainment industry. He plans to gain some experience with which to write. (He's already written a screenplay.) Schneider wrote his thesis on “The Evolution of the Jew in American Film,” a project he says was launched by an argument he had with Spike Lee during the director's 1996 appearance at Union. Schneider said he challenged Lee for defending Marlon Brando's anti-Semitic remarks about the Jewish influence in Hollywood. Has Schneider closed the door on law? “I don't believe in closing doors,” he said. “But if you're on too straight a path, you don't get the most out of life. I can do law, but I want to know what else there is that I can do.”

COCOA House founder: “I'm going to miss the kids”

Rachel Graham has more on her mind than missing her fellow Union students after graduation. “I'm going to miss the kids a lot,” she says. “The kids” are the 75 Hamilton Hill children who were part of COCOA House, an afterschool mentoring program that Graham started in 1996 at Grace Temple Church of God in Christ. (Graham, a 1994 graduate of Guilderland High, is the daughter of the church's pastor, Marvin L. Graham, who is delivering the invocation and benediction at Union's Commencement on Sunday.) COCOA (Children of Our Community Open to Achievement) activities include planting shrubs at the church for Earth Day, field trips and scavenger hunts at Union College, and reading … lots of reading. “I loved to help the kids learn to read,” Graham says, adding that My Messy Room by Mary Packard was a favorite among the elementary-aged children. Graham said she draws comfort from the knowledge that five Union students will carry on the program, but she will miss the children who came every week and were serious about their work. Some of them, she hopes, will end up at a college like Union. Graham, a geology major and arts minor, recently received the Human Rights Youth Achievement Award from the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission for her founding and direction of COCOA House.

Juggling motherhood, career, college

As if working a full-time job and being a mother of two teens wasn't enough, Gretchen Turner of Rexford decided in 1993 to take a “few” courses. A “few” turned into many and this year she graduates with honors from Union with a bachelor's degree in visual arts. Turner, 46, who works as the technical secretary for the civil engineering and geology departments at Union, has specialized in printmaking, specifically etchings. She received a grant from the College to pursue an internship to examine the polymer plate printing with artist Thom O'Connor of the University at Albany. Her work will be on display this summer at the College. She is interested in museum conservation programs, and is considering pursuing a master's degree in arts. Besides her academic load, Turner has been busy with committee work at the College. She finishes a three-year term as a member of the College's Planning and Priorities Committee, which examines a number of budgetary issues of the College. She also served as a member and chair of the College's Human Relations Committee. Turner says she is pleased to have reached her goal just as her two children — Jason, 17, and Elizabeth 15 – are about to finish high school and embark on college themselves. “It's like going through labor,” Turner says of her last five busy years. “And now that it's over, I can say I'd do it again.”

Union College grad a star in the net and in the classroom

“I know that it is because of my education that I will continue to have quality choices throughout my lifetime.” While this is not an uncommon statement coming from a typical honors graduate, throw in a couple of offers from teams in the National Hockey League and the comment becomes a lot more striking. Trevor Koenig, Union College's record-setting goalie has his eyes equally fixed on academics and professional hockey. Currently talking with NHL teams in North Carolina and Calgary, Trevor is naturally excited about a potential professional hockey career. Yet, as much as he works to improve his goal-tending skills, Trevor remains committed to sharpening his mind as well. A stellar undergraduate at Union, Trevor has been accepted into the College's Master's of Arts in Teaching, a highly competitive graduate education program. “I have always believed that a strong education makes for a well-balanced athlete,” Trevor says. And balanced he his. Currently in nomination for the coveted ECAC Robbins Award for academic and athletic excellence and achieving a 3.34 G.P.A. in math and English, Trevor also led the nation in 1996-97 with a .931 save percentage, is a first-team national All-American and holds more than 10 hockey records at Union. Whether it's Calgary or the classroom, it seems the future is indeed bright for this Union grad.

She runs, she swims, she studies

Kelly Jamieson of Herndon, Va., arrived on campus in 1994 with a bold proposition: she would participate in three grueling endurance sports — cross country, swimming and track. Each of these sports is demanding; that the seasons overlap makes doing all three impossible. Or so her coaches thought. “She'll be back in a few weeks to cut back on something,” one of her coaches said. But she never said a word. Now, she graduates having done three sports for each of her four years, and serving as captain for each during her senior year. It was common to see Kelly drag herself home at the end of an exhausting 12-mile training run saying, “I have SO much work to do tonight.” What few realized was that she wasn't going straight home; she would be stopping at the pool to join her other teammates for her second practice of the day. Somehow, Kelly figured out a way to do the impossible … and do it well. Throughout, she has maintained her trademark spirit and contagious sense of humor that got her elected by her peers as captain of cross country, swimming and track. A German major, Jamieson plans to pursue a career abroad.

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West Hartford native Naomi Harel is student speaker at Union College Commencement ceremony

Posted on Jun 14, 1998

Schenectady, N.Y. (June 14, 1998) – Naomi Harel of West Hartford, who graduated from Union College with a combined degree in sociology and political science, delivered the student address at the Union College Commencement.

A native of West Hartford, she is a 1994 graduate of Hall High School. She was nominated by a faculty member to be student speaker, and then selected based on content and delivery.

Harel compared two large campus projects – the construction of the F.W. Olin Center, a high-technology learning center, and the renovation and expansion of Schaffer Library – with the “renovation” of her senior class.

“For the past four years, the administration, staff and the faculty have been working on a project of immense magnitude: the renovation of the student in mind, body, spirit and intellect,” she said.

“As with any other renovation project, there are certain components and people which are integral to the anticipated results. Our professors, our parents, our family, and our friends have been a quintessential part of our improvement over the past couple of years.”

Harel, who will attend the University of Pittsburgh Law School, said she is considering a career in civil litigation.

At Union, she wrote her senior honors thesis on “Juvenile Delinquency: A Social and Legal Response” and presented her research at the Steinmetz Symposium, the College's annual exposition of student scholarly, creative and research achievements. Her advisors were Prof. Martha Huggins and Prof. Joseph Board. Also while at Union, she was a member of the sociology honor society, a dean's list student, president and captain of the rugby club, a member of the International Relations Club and Pre-Law Society, an admissions office tour guide and student ambassador, and representative of Hall Government. She went on a term abroad to Beer Sheva, Israel, in 1996.

While a student at Hall High School, she was a member of the National Honor Society, a member of the track and soccer teams and president of Peer Facilitators.

Student commencement address by Naomi Harel '98

A lot has changed since I set foot on this campus four years ago. Restoration of the Nott Memorial was completed, the college center was renamed, electronic classrooms were introduced, and of course, the construction and renovation of Schaffer Library and the Olin building commenced. But today, I would like to direct your attention to renovations of a slightly different nature.

For the past four years the administration, the staff, and the faculty at Union College have been working on a project of immense magnitude: the renovation of the student in mind, body, spirit, and intellect. To renovate is to improve by remodeling, to impart new vigor or to revive. When we made the choice to study at Union College, we consequently made a decision that would change our lives. Whether you are an undergraduate, transfer, or graduate student, your time here at Union has in some way altered who you are and has created a profile of who you will become. However, the decision to study at Union was just the beginning. It was at that time that the blue prints were laid. The class of 1998 began to take shape soon after.

As with any other renovation project, there are certain components and people which are integral to the anticipated results. Our professors, our parents, our family, and our friends have been a quintessential part of our improvement over the past couple of years.

To our professors — you have been our foundation. You have given us one of times greatest gifts — knowledge. To many, you have been far more than an educator. You have become our friends, our confidants, and our source of pride and distinction. It is with the greatest humility that we thank you. We hope that you look upon yourselves with great pride today. You have been a fundamental part of the finished project. And we all know, that it hasn't always been easy. When we leave here today, please take comfort in knowing how much we each take of you: our professors, our teachers, our distinguished mentors.

To our parents and to our family — you have been our scaffolding. You surrounded us with comfort and sat in the background in case we fell. Your support and love kept our spirits and our hearts alive. We are here today, because as young children, you made us do our homework as soon as we got home from school, because you taught us the value of a good education and the rewards of working hard and because you sacrificed so much because you believed in us. When we stepped out of line or lost focus, you brought us back with a gentle hand. You accepted our collect calls and wiped away our tears when things didn't go as planned. Today, we would like to share our diplomas and our success with you. We are just as proud of you today as you have been of us during our lifetimes. We hold our heads high because of the affection and pride you have bestowed upon us. Thank you for giving us the courage to be who we are today.

And last but most certainly not least, to our friends — you have been our frame. Without you we surely would have collapsed. Remember those first friends you shared your fears with, who later became your closest friends? Remember those bonding nights, when you never felt closer to a certain person, and how that closeness created ties that will never die? Remember how over breaks you had the chance to step back and really see the friends you made and the memories shared, and you were satisfied. Somewhere between day one and year four, we made some of the best friends of our lives. And now, looking back with a smile and a sigh, we wonder where all the time went. Never lose touch with those friends you've made here at college because you have all changed and grown enormously together, and that is something very sacred to be shared. Remember the laughs, let them echo in the back of your mind and reverberate in your heart. Most importantly, stay close to your friends and family for they have helped make you the person you are today.

Awhile back, I came across a quote which seems to sum up what graduation signifies:

Today I begin my life anew. My spirit keeps me young. I keep my mind, my soul, and my body in balance. I have the experience to enjoy and learn from my life. I am strong. I face my future standing straight. I am flexible as the world changes around me. I move through time without growing old. My smile is infectious. I rise to meet life's challenges.

With these words in mind, remember that when you leave here today, you are leaving with so much more than you walked in with. On that note, it is with the utmost honor and pride that I present to you the class of 1998, undoubtedly one of Union College's finest renovation projects ever.

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Valedictorian, salutatorian named for Class of 1998

Posted on Jun 14, 1998

Schenectady, N.Y. (June 14, 1998) – Anguel Zapryanov, an economics major at Union College who came to the U.S. in 1993 from Harmanli, Bulgaria, is valedictorian of Union's Class of 1998.

A financial analyst for Stern Stewart Co., a New York City corporate advisory firm, he fulfilled his requirements for graduation last fall.

Zapryanov transferred into Union after completing two years at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina. He said he was attracted to Union by the opportunity to do summer research and to participate in a term abroad. Zapryanov credits his arrival at Union to Dianne Crozer, associate dean of admissions, who works closely with transfer students. He said that Crozier and Prof. Doug Klein of economics also were helpful in finding him off-campus housing when he arrived.

He spent a term in Italy led by Prof. Ruth Stevens, which he describes as one of his best experiences at Union. “I love everything about Italy,” he said, “the people, the food, the wine, but especially Italian Renaissance art.”

He wrote his senior thesis on “Asymmetric Information and Aggregate Investment: Evidence from Macrodata” with Prof. Eshragh Motahar of economics, with whom he worked on a number of research projects.

At Union, Zapryanov was active in the economics club

He says he is considering teaching economics at the college level.

Laurie M. Kirschner, salutatorian

Schenectady, N.Y. (June 14, 1998) – Laurie M. Kirschner, a psychology major at Union College and a 1994 graduate of Suffern High School, was salutatorian of the Class of 1998 at Union College.

She is the daughter of Joan and Lewis Kirschner of 35 Sagamore Ave., Suffern.

She will attend Harvard University Graduate School of Education to pursue a master's degree in human development and psychology. She is considering teaching psychology at the college level, with a specialty in female adolescent psychology.

She wrote her senior thesis on “Psychological Separation and Identity Formation in Adolescent Females: The Influence of Family Dynamics.” Her advisor was Suzanne Benack, associate professor of psychology. Kirschner presented her research recently at Union's Steinmetz Symposium on Student Creative, Scholarly and Research Achievement.

Among her findings, Kirschner found that conflict with parents can be a good thing in identity formation among adolescents. “It is important that they can disagree and voice their own opinions as distinct,” she said.

Kirschner said she was also interested to discover that young women who emphasized that their father was warm and supportive tended to do very well psychologically, even more so than those who said their mothers were warm.” The reason, she says, is that adolescent women need to separate from their mothers; having a supportive father eases the transition to independence.

Kirschner interviewed about 60 female students for her study.

Among her activities at Union, she was photo editor of Concordiensis, the student paper at Union; an admissions interviewer; founder of “Why Weigh Your Self Esteem,” a support group for those affected by eating disorders; a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority and the organization's risk management chair; a member of Peer Facilitators, a student organization that fosters discussion on issues. She also served as an orientation advisor at Union, and held internships with Hope House (a facility for adolescents involved with substance abuse) and Glendale Nursing Home.

Among her awards and honors, she is a member of Phi Beta Kappa; Psi Chi, the national honorary society in psychology; recipient of the Delphic Honor Society Award for exemplary contribution to the Union College community, the Lisa Gerhan Memorial Award for excellence in psychology; and the President's Commission on the Status of Women's Community Service Award. She also received the Phi Beta Kappa Prize for excellence in General Education at Union.

At Suffern High School, she was photo editor of the yearbook, secretary of the class, and a member of Suffern Health Players, an educational program for elementary students.

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Union awards bachelor’s degrees to alumni whose college careers were cut short

Posted on Jun 14, 1998

Schenectady, N.Y. (June 14, 1998) – If some of Union College's graduates look older and wiser than their classmates, perhaps it's because they are.

A few gray heads have been appearing in the graduation procession, thanks to a program that awards bachelor's degrees to alumni whose study was cut short – in most cases by military service. Many of the recipients have gone on to careers in medicine or law.

Each spring, the College awards bachelor's degrees to alumni who have completed at least three years of study at Union, did not receive a bachelor's degree from another institution, have received an advanced degree and have attained distinction in their field. These are not honorary degrees.

About 40 alumni have received bachelor's degrees in the eight years of the program.

This year they are:

Raymond DeMatteo '41, a Schenectady attorney and former city councilman (Mr. DeMatteo's granddaughter, Maria McLean of Schenectady, is a graduating senior at Union.);
Howard Beardmore '48, a periodontist in Coral Gables, Fla.;
Howard Seld '35, a retired attorney in Lake Worth, Fla.; and
Dr. George Clark '42, a physician in Chazy, N.Y.

Among others from past years were Dr. John Clowe '44 of Schenectady, past president of the American Medical Association; Sidney Brodsky, director of pediatric cardiology at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Fla.; J. Bradley Aust, Dorn Distinguished Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio; Levon Bedrosian, medical director of the Child's Hospital in Albany; and Paul Carbone, director of the University of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center and a professor at the University of Wisconsin.

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